Not what you want?

Try searching again using:
1. Other similar-meaning words.
2. Fewer words or just one word.

The Tao in Chinese / Japanese...

Buy a The Tao calligraphy wall scroll here!

Start your custom "The Tao" project by clicking the button next to your favorite "The Tao" title below...

  1. The Tao or Dao of Being Human / Humanity
  2. Tao / Dao of the Heart / Soul
  3. Daodejing / Tao Te Ching
  4. Daodejing / Tao Te Ching - Chapter 33
  5. Katana
  6. Daodejing / Tao Te Ching Chapter 81
  7. Daoism / Taoism
  8. The Way of the Wave
  9. The Dao of Filial Piety
10. The Foundation of Good Conduct
11. Kodokan
12. Beer
13. Kodokan
14. Shidai / Sida / Mahabhuta
15. Mercy / Compassion / Love
16. Wu Wei / Without Action
17. Taekwondo

The Tao or Dao of Being Human / Humanity

China rén dào
Japan jindou
The Tao or Dao of Being Human / Humanity

人道 is literally the "The Way of Being Human," or "The Human Way." It can also be translated as "humanity."

人道 has a secondary meaning of "sidewalk" as in "the way for people to walk" (in Japanese and Korean only). But as calligraphy artwork, nobody will read it with that translation.

Please note that there are two ways to Romanized Dao or Tao as in Daoism = Taoism. It's the same word in Chinese.

Tao / Dao of the Heart / Soul

China xīn dào
Tao / Dao of the Heart / Soul

心道 means "The Way of the Heart" or "The Way of the Soul." The first character means "heart" but can also mean soul, spirit, mind, or your essence. In this case, it is most accurately translated with the heart or soul meaning.

The second character is Dao as in Daoism. Please note, this is the same thing as Tao as in Taoism (just Romanized differently - it's always been the same in Chinese for about 2300 years.

Daodejing / Tao Te Ching

Except from Chapter 67
China yī yuē cí èr yuē jiǎn sān yuē bù gǎn wéi tiān xià xiān
Daodejing / Tao Te Ching

This is an except from the 67th Chapter of Lao Tzu's (Lao Zi's) Te-Tao Ching (Dao De Jing). This is the part where the three treasures are discussed. In English, we'd say these three treasures are compassion, frugality, and humility. Some may translate these as love, moderation, and lack of arrogance. I have also seen them translated as benevolence, modesty, and "Not presuming to be at the forefront in the world." You can mix them up the way you want, as translation is not really a science but rather an art.

I should also explain that the first two treasures are single-character ideas, yet the third treasure was written out in six characters (there are also some auxiliary characters to number the treasures).

If Lao Tzu's words are important to you, then a wall scroll with this passage might make a great addition to your home.

Daodejing / Tao Te Ching - Chapter 33

China zhī rén zhě zhī yě zì zhī zhě míng yě shèng rén zhě yǒu lì yě zì shèng zhě qiáng yě zhī zú zhě fù yě qiáng xíng zhě yǒu zhì yě bù zhī qí suǒ zhě jiǔ yě sǐ ér bù wáng zhě shòu yě
Daodejing / Tao Te Ching - Chapter 33

This is referred to as passage or chapter 33 of the Dao De Jing (often Romanized as "Tao Te Ching").

These are the words of the philosopher Laozi (Lao Tzu).

The following is one translation of this passage:
To know others is wisdom;
To know oneself is acuity/intelligence.
To conquer others is power,
To conquer oneself is strength.
To know contentment is to have wealth.
To act resolutely is to have purpose.
To stay one's ground is to be enduring.
To die and yet not be forgotten is to be long-lived.
Another translation:
To understand others is to be knowledgeable;
To understand yourself is to be wise.
To conquer others is to have strength;
To conquer yourself is to be strong.
To know when you have enough is to be rich.
To go forward with strength is to have ambition.
To not lose your place is to be long lasting.
To die but not be forgotten -- that's true long life.
A third translation of the second half:
He who is content is rich;
He who acts with persistence has will;
He who does not lose his roots will endure;
He who dies physically but preserves the Dao
will enjoy a long after-life.


Notes:

During our research, the Chinese characters shown here are probably the most accurate to the original text of Laozi. These were taken for the most part from the Mawangdui 1973 and Guodan 1993 manuscripts which pre-date other Daodejing texts by about 1000 years.

Grammar was a little different in Laozi's time. So you should consider this to be the ancient Chinese version. Some have modernized this passage by adding, removing, or swapping articles and changing the grammar (we felt the oldest and most original version would be more desirable). You may find other versions printed in books or online - sometimes these modern texts are simply used to explain to Chinese people what the original text really means.

This language issue can be compared in English by thinking how the King James (known as the Authorized version in Great Britain) Bible from 1611 was written, and comparing it to modern English. Now imagine that the Daodejing was probably written around 403 BCE (2000 years before the King James Version of the Bible). To a Chinese person, the original Daodejing reads like text that is 3 times more detached compared to Shakespeare's English is to our modern-day speech.

Extended notes:

While on this Biblical text comparison, it should be noted, that just like the Bible, all the original texts of the Daodejing were lost or destroyed long ago. Just as with the scripture used to create the Bible, various manuscripts exist, many with variations or copyist errors. Just as the earliest New Testament scripture (incomplete) is from 170 years after Christ, the earliest Daodejing manuscript (incomplete) is from 100-200 years after the death of Laozi.

The reason that the originals were lost probably has a lot to do with the first Qin Emperor. Upon taking power and unifying China, he ordered the burning and destruction of all books (scrolls/rolls) except those pertaining to Chinese medicine and a few other subjects. The surviving Daodejing manuscripts were either hidden on purpose or simply forgotten about. Some were not unearthed until as late as 1993.

We compared a lot of research by various archeologists and historians before deciding on this as the most accurate and correct version. But one must allow that it may not be perfect, or the actual and original as from the hand of Laozi himself.

Katana

Japanese Samurai Sword
China dāo
Japan katana
Katana

刀 is the Japanese Kanji for "sword." This refers to the style of sword carried by warriors, samurai, and shogun of ancient Japan.

With the pacification of Japan, such swords are now only used for ceremony and decoration. The true art of sword-smithing is all but lost in Japan with new sword production dedicated to making inexpensive replicas for the tourist and foreign market.

For those of you that want to ask whether I can get you a real antique sword. Let me tell you that most real Asian swords were melted down after WWII in Japan, and during the Great Leap Forward in China. Any remaining swords are family heirlooms that nobody will part with.

Please carefully note that the Japanese kanji character shown above is only for a Japanese audience. In China, this character means "knife." See our other entry for "sword" in Chinese.
Note: 刀 can mean knife, sword, or blade in Korean, depending on context.


See Also:  Sword

Daodejing / Tao Te Ching Chapter 81

Daodejing / Tao Te Ching Chapter 81

This is the Mawangdui version of Daodejing chapter 81.

It can be translated this way:
Credible words are not eloquent;
Eloquent words are not credible.

The wise are not erudite;
The erudite are not wise.

The adept are not all-around;
The all-around are not adept.
The sages do not accumulate things.
Yet the more they have done for others,
The more they have gained themselves;
The more they have given to others,
The more they have gotten themselves.

Thus, the way of tian (heaven) is to benefit without harming;
The way of sages is to do without contending.
Another translation:
Sincere words are not showy;
showy words are not sincere.
Those who know are not "widely learned";
those "widely learned" do not know.
The good do not have a lot;
Those with a lot are not good.
The Sage accumulates nothing.
Having used what he had for others,
he has even more.
Having given what he had to others,
what he has is even greater.
Therefore, the Way of Heaven is to benefit and not cause any harm,
The Way of Man is to act on behalf of others and not to compete with them.
And a third translation:
True words aren't charming,
charming words aren't true.
Good people aren't contentious,
contentious people aren't good.
People who know aren't learned,
learned people don't know.
Wise souls don't hoard;
the more they do for others the more they have,
the more they give the richer they are.
The Way of heaven provides without destroying.
Doing without outdoing
is the Way of the wise.

Daoism / Taoism

Literally: The Way or Road
China dào
Japan michi / -do
Daoism / Taoism

道 is the character "dao" which is sometimes written as "tao" but pronounced like "dow" in Mandarin.

道 is the base of what is known as "Taoism." If you translate this literally, it can mean "the way" or "the path."

Dao is believed to be that which flows through all things, and keeps them in balance. It incorporates the ideas of yin and yang (e.g. there would be no love without hate, no light without dark, no male without female.)

The beginning of Taoism can be traced to a mystical man named
Lao Zi (604-531 BC), who followed, and added to the teachings of Confucius.

More about Taoism / Daoism here.

Note that this is pronounced "dou" and sometimes "michi" when written alone in Japanese but pronounced "do" in word compounds such as Karate-do and Bushido. It's also "do" in Korean.

Alternate translations and meanings: road, way, path; truth, principle province.

Important Japanese note: In Japanese, this will generally be read with the road, way, or path meaning. Taoism is not as popular or well-known in Japan, so that Daoist/Taoist philosophy is not the first thing a Japanese person will think of then they read this character.


See our Taoism Page

The Way of the Wave

The Tao of the Waves
China làng zhī dào
The Way of the Wave

浪之道 is a great title for a surfer whose lifestyle is entwined with the surf and waves.
This can be translated a few different ways:
The Way of the Wave
The Dao of the Wave
The Tao of the Waves
Note: Dao and Tao are the same character, just sometimes romanized differently.

The Dao of Filial Piety

China xiào dào
Japan kou dou
The Dao of Filial Piety

These two characters most clearly express the Confucian philosophy of filial piety. Confucius taught that all should be respectful and obedient to their parents. Included in this idea is honoring your ancestors.

The second character is "dao/tao" or "the way" as in Taoism. You can say this title is "The Tao of Filial Piety" or "The Way of Filial Piety."


See Also:  Confucius

The Foundation of Good Conduct

Quote from Confucius
China zhì yú dào jù yú dé yī yú rén yóu yú yì
The Foundation of Good Conduct

This proverb from the Analects of Confucius translates as:

Resolve yourself in the Dao/Tao/Way.
Rely on Virtue.
Reside in benevolence.
Revel in the arts.

According to Confucius, these are the tenets of good and proper conduct.


This was written over 2500 years ago. The composition is in ancient Chinese grammar and phrasing. A modern Chinese person would need a background in Chinese literature to understand this without the aid of a reference.

Kodokan

Japan kou dou kan
Kodokan

光道館 is Kodokan. 光道館 is the title of an Aikido dojo, studio, or hall.

Be careful in selecting the correct Kodokan, as there are two different titles that romanize as Kodokan.

Here's how the characters break down in meaning for this one:
1. Light / Bright
2. Way / Path (the Tao/Dao as in Taoism/Daoism)
3. Schoolroom / Building / Establishment / Mansion / Hall (of learning)

Altogether, you get something like, "The Path of Light Establishment."

Beer

China pí jiǔ
Beer

啤酒 means beer in Chinese.

This can refer to virtually any fermented grain-based alcoholic beverage that has bubbles. So this includes all kinds of ales and lagers.

In China, the grains used for beer sometimes include rice. But even in Chinese beer, the concept is the same - beer must be made with hops and yeast.

Beer was the third word I learned in Chinese, and I've toured 3 different breweries in China, Tsing Tao, Lao Shan, and Yanjing. I've done my research on this calligraphy entry!

Kodokan

Japan kou dou kan
Kodokan

This title refers to a certain kind or school of Judo martial arts.

Here's how the characters break down in meaning for this one:
1. Mutual Assistance or Association. Can also refer to a lecture, speech, or explaining something (as in teaching).
2. Way / Path (the Tao/Dao as in Taoism/Daoism)
3. Schoolroom / Building / Establishment / Mansion / Small Castle / Hall (of learning)

Altogether, you get something like, "The Path of Mutual Learning Hall."

More about Kodokan from the Institute of Kodokan.

Shidai / Sida / Mahabhuta

China sì dà
Japan shi dai
Shidai / Sida / Mahabhuta

In Buddhism, this is mahābhūta, the four elements of which all things are made: earth, water, fire, and wind.

This can also represent the four freedoms: speaking out freely, airing views fully, holding great debates, and writing big-character posters.

In some context, this can be a university or college offering four-year programs.

To others, this can represent the Tao, Heaven, Earth and King.

Going back to the Buddhist context, these four elements "earth, water, fire, and wind" represent 堅, 濕, 煖, 動, which is: solid, liquid, heat, and motion.

Mercy / Compassion / Love

China
Japan ji
Mercy / Compassion / Love

慈 is the simplest way to express the idea of compassion. It can also mean love for your fellow humans, humanity, or living creatures. Sometimes this is extended to mean charity.

This term is often used with Buddhist or Christian context. The concept was also spoken of by Laozi (Lao Tzu) in the Dao De Jing (Tao Te Ching).

慈 is considered the direct translation of the Sanskrit word मैत्री (maitrī) Pali word मेत्ता (mettā). In this context, it means benevolence, loving-kindness, and good will.

This Chinese character is understood in Japanese but is usually used in compound words (not seen alone). Also used in old Korean Hanja, so it's very universal.


See Also:  Mercy | Benevolence | Forgiveness | Kindness

Wu Wei / Without Action

Daoist / Taoist Tenet
China wú wéi
Japan mui
Wu Wei / Without Action

Wu Wei is a Daoist (Taoist) tenet, that speaks to the idea of letting nature take its course.

Some will say it's about knowing when to take action and when not to. In reality, it's more about not going against the flow. What is going to happen is controlled by the Dao (Tao), for which one who follows the Dao will not resist or struggle against.

There is a lot more to this concept but chances are, if you are looking for this entry, you already know the expanded concept.

Warning: Outside of Daoist context, this means idleness or inactivity (especially in Japanese where very few know this as a Daoist concept).

Taekwondo

China tái quán dào
Japan te kon do
Taekwondo

跆拳道 is one of the most widespread types of martial arts in the world as well as being an Olympic sport. Taekwondo was born in Korea with influences of Chinese and Japanese styles, combined with traditional Korean combat skills. Some will define it as the "Korean art of empty-handed self-defense."

In the simplest translation, the first character means "kick," the second character can mean either "fist" or "punching" the third means "way" or "method." Altogether, you could say this is "Kick Punch Method." When heard or read in various Asian languages, all will automatically think of this famous Korean martial art. It is written the same in Japanese Kanji, Chinese, and Korean Hanja characters - so the appearance of the characters are rather universal. However, you should note that there is another way to write this in modern Korean Hangul characters which looks like the image to the right. Taekwondo Hangul Characters

We suggest the original Korean Hanja (Chinese characters) for a wall scroll but if you really need the Hangul version, you must use master calligrapher Xing An-Ping: Order Taekwondo in Korean Hangul

Note: Taekwondo is sometimes Romanized as Tae-Kwondo, Tae Kwon Do, Taekwon-do, Taegwondo, Tae Gweon Do, Tai Kwon Do, Taikwondo, Taekwando, Tae Kwan Do and in Chinese Taiquandao, Tai Quan Dao, Taichuando, or Tai Chuan Tao.

Search for The Tao in my Japanese & Chinese Dictionary


The following table may be helpful for those studying Chinese or Japanese...

Title CharactersRomaji(Romanized Japanese)Various forms of Romanized Chinese
The Tao or Dao of Being Human
Humanity
人道jindou / jindorén dào / ren2 dao4 / ren dao / rendaojen tao / jentao
Tao
Dao of the Heart
Soul
心道xīn dào / xin1 dao4 / xin dao / xindaohsin tao / hsintao
Daodejing
Tao Te Ching
一曰慈二曰儉三曰不敢為天下先
一曰慈二曰俭三曰不敢为天下先
yī yuē cí èr yuē jiǎn sān yuē bù gǎn wéi tiān xià xiān
yi1 yue1 ci2 er4 yue1 jian3 san1 yue1 bu4 gan3 wei2 tian1 xia4 xian1
yi yue ci er yue jian san yue bu gan wei tian xia xian
i yüeh tz`u erh yüeh chien san yüeh pu kan wei t`ien hsia hsien
i yüeh tzu erh yüeh chien san yüeh pu kan wei tien hsia hsien
Daodejing
Tao Te Ching - Chapter 33
知人者知也自知者明也勝人者有力也自勝者強也知足者富也強行者有志也不失其所者久也死而不亡者壽也
知人者知也自知者明也胜人者有力也自胜者强也知足者富也强行者有志也不失其所者久也死而不亡者寿也
zhī rén zhě zhī yě zì zhī zhě míng yě shèng rén zhě yǒu lì yě zì shèng zhě qiáng yě zhī zú zhě fù yě qiáng xíng zhě yǒu zhì yě bù zhī qí suǒ zhě jiǔ yě sǐ ér bù wáng zhě shòu yě
zhi1 ren2 zhe3 zhi1 ye3 zi4 zhi1 zhe3 ming2 ye3 sheng4 ren2 zhe3 you3 li4 ye3 zi4 sheng4 zhe3 qiang2 ye3 zhi1 zu2 zhe3 fu4 ye3 qiang2 xing2 zhe3 you3 zhi4 ye3 bu4 zhi1 qi2 suo3 zhe3 jiu3 ye3 si3 er2 bu4 wang2 zhe3 shou4 ye3
zhi ren zhe zhi ye zi zhi zhe ming ye sheng ren zhe you li ye zi sheng zhe qiang ye zhi zu zhe fu ye qiang xing zhe you zhi ye bu zhi qi suo zhe jiu ye si er bu wang zhe shou ye
chih jen che chih yeh tzu chih che ming yeh sheng jen che yu li yeh tzu sheng che ch`iang yeh chih tsu che fu yeh ch`iang hsing che yu chih yeh pu chih ch`i so che chiu yeh ssu erh pu wang che shou yeh
chih jen che chih yeh tzu chih che ming yeh sheng jen che yu li yeh tzu sheng che chiang yeh chih tsu che fu yeh chiang hsing che yu chih yeh pu chih chi so che chiu yeh ssu erh pu wang che shou yeh
Katanakatanadāo / dao1 / daotao
Daodejing
Tao Te Ching Chapter 81
信言不美美言不信知者不博博者不知善者不多多者不善聖人無積既以為人己癒有既以予人矣已癒多故天之道利而不害聖人之道為而不爭
信言不美美言不信知者不博博者不知善者不多多者不善圣人无积既以为人己愈有既以予人矣已愈多故天之道利而不害圣人之道为而不争
Daoism
Taoism
michi / -dodào / dao4 / daotao
The Way of the Wave浪之道làng zhī dào
lang4 zhi1 dao4
lang zhi dao
langzhidao
lang chih tao
langchihtao
The Dao of Filial Piety孝道kou dou / koudou / ko do / kodoxiào dào / xiao4 dao4 / xiao dao / xiaodaohsiao tao / hsiaotao
The Foundation of Good Conduct誌于道據于德依于仁遊于藝
志于道据于德依于仁游于艺
zhì yú dào jù yú dé yī yú rén yóu yú yì
zhi4 yu2 dao4 ju4 yu2 de2 yi1 yu2 ren2 you2 yu2 yi4
zhi yu dao ju yu de yi yu ren you yu yi
chih yü tao chü yü te i yü jen yu yü i
Kodokan光道館
讲道馆
kou dou kan
koudoukan
ko do kan
kodokan
Beer啤酒pí jiǔ / pi2 jiu3 / pi jiu / pijiup`i chiu / pichiu / pi chiu
Kodokan講道館
讲道馆
kou dou kan
koudoukan
ko do kan
kodokan
Shidai
Sida
Mahabhuta
四大shi dai / shidaisì dà / si4 da4 / si da / sidassu ta / ssuta
Mercy
Compassion
Love
jicí / ci2 / citz`u / tzu
Wu Wei
Without Action
無為
无为
muiwú wéi / wu2 wei2 / wu wei / wuwei
Taekwondo跆拳道te kon do / tekondotái quán dào
tai2 quan2 dao4
tai quan dao
taiquandao
t`ai ch`üan tao
taichüantao
tai chüan tao
In some entries above you will see that characters have different versions above and below a line.
In these cases, the characters above the line are Traditional Chinese, while the ones below are Simplified Chinese.



Successful Chinese Character and Japanese Kanji calligraphy searches within the last few hours...

Aikido
Angel
August
Black
Blessing
Brave Heart
Brotherly and Sisterly Love
Chaos
Christian
Chuan Fa
Confidence
Darkness
Destiny
Devil
Divine
Dream
Endurance
Enso
Feng Shui
Fire
Forever Family
Forgive and Forget
God Bless You
God is Always With You
Gold
Good Luck
Gratitude
Hapkido
Happy Birthday
Happy Life
Heart Sutra
Heaven
Hello
Hentai
Holy Spirit
Home is Where the Heart Is
House of Good Fortune
Indomitable
Integrity
Islam
Jeet Kune Do
Karate
Kingdom of Heaven
Kung Fu
Libra
Lightning
Live Laugh Love
Lone Wolf
Lotus Sutra
Love
Love and Affection
Love and Peace
Luck
Metal
Muhammad
Mushin
Music
Never Give Up
Noble
Once in a Lifetime
Pain
Peace and Good Health
Peaceful Warrior
Pure
Sacred Fire
Sacrifice
Sagittarius
Samurai
Saudi
Self-Discipline
Serenity
Shadow
Silence
Sing
Snake
Strength
Strength Ability
Strength and Courage
Strong Woman
Tai Chi
Tao Te Ching
The Dao of Filial Piety
Tiger Spirit
Together
Trust No Man
Victory
Wealth
Wine
Wolf

All of our calligraphy wall scrolls are handmade.

When the calligrapher finishes creating your artwork, it is taken to my art mounting workshop in Beijing where a wall scroll is made by hand from a combination of silk, rice paper, and wood.
After we create your wall scroll, it takes at least two weeks for air mail delivery from Beijing to you.

Allow a few weeks for delivery. Rush service speeds it up by a week or two for $10!

When you select your calligraphy, you'll be taken to another page where you can choose various custom options.


A nice Chinese calligraphy wall scroll

The wall scroll that Sandy is holding in this picture is a "large size"
single-character wall scroll.
We also offer custom wall scrolls in small, medium, and an even-larger jumbo size.

A professional Chinese Calligrapher

Professional calligraphers are getting to be hard to find these days.
Instead of drawing characters by hand, the new generation in China merely type roman letters into their computer keyboards and pick the character that they want from a list that pops up.

There is some fear that true Chinese calligraphy may become a lost art in the coming years. Many art institutes in China are now promoting calligraphy programs in hopes of keeping this unique form of art alive.

Trying to learn Chinese calligrapher - a futile effort

Even with the teachings of a top-ranked calligrapher in China, my calligraphy will never be good enough to sell. I will leave that to the experts.

A high-ranked Chinese master calligrapher that I met in Zhongwei

The same calligrapher who gave me those lessons also attracted a crowd of thousands and a TV crew as he created characters over 6-feet high. He happens to be ranked as one of the top 100 calligraphers in all of China. He is also one of very few that would actually attempt such a feat.


Check out my lists of Japanese Kanji Calligraphy Wall Scrolls and Old Korean Hanja Calligraphy Wall Scrolls.

Some people may refer to this entry as The Tao Kanji, The Tao Characters, The Tao in Mandarin Chinese, The Tao Characters, The Tao in Chinese Writing, The Tao in Japanese Writing, The Tao in Asian Writing, The Tao Ideograms, Chinese The Tao symbols, The Tao Hieroglyphics, The Tao Glyphs, The Tao in Chinese Letters, The Tao Hanzi, The Tao in Japanese Kanji, The Tao Pictograms, The Tao in the Chinese Written-Language, or The Tao in the Japanese Written-Language.